AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
A series of recent polls showing disastrous numbers for President Joe Biden have cast more doubt on what Democrats once touted as an insurmountable “emerging majority” of support for their party, while also forecasting serious issues for Biden’s re-election effort.
A Wall Street Journal survey released earlier this month found that just 39 percent of voters hold a favorable view of the president, with 73 percent saying Biden is too old to seek a second term – a figure that includes two-thirds of Democrats.
Biden is deeply underwater on virtually every issue, including the economy, inflation, securing the border, improving infrastructure, dealing with China, creating jobs, and the war in Ukraine.
Former President Donald Trump, who continues to dominate the GOP primaries, holds a 10-point lead over Biden on the question of mental fitness for the job. By an 11-point advantage, voters said Trump had a record of accomplishment as president.
The Journal notes that Biden’s dismal numbers come as the president “has spent months traveling the country promoting his economic record and legislative achievements, including major investments in infrastructure, clean energy and technology.” Yet it appears those supposed victories aren’t breaking through with voters – likely because many of them weren’t actually the “historic” wins for ordinary Americans that Democrats had promised.
Perhaps even more concerningly for the president, just days after the release of the Journal poll, a New York Times article chronicled “consistent signs of erosion in Black and Hispanic support for Biden” in polling data. Given that Biden relied heavily on strong support from nonwhite voters in 2020, a collapse in support among that demographic could doom his re-election effort.
But as the Times notes, Biden’s struggles with nonwhite voters may not be a problem unique to him: “If [Biden is] unable to revitalize this support by next November, it will continue a decade-long trend of declining Democratic strength among voters considered to be the foundation of the party.”
While that sentence is tucked away 10 paragraphs down in the Times analysis of Biden’s struggles with nonwhite voters, it is nonetheless a noteworthy admission from a liberal press that once embraced the notion that Democrats’ strength with minority voters was unshakable and would lend them permanent control over the levers of power.
21 years ago this November, the Times ran an excerpt from a new book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, by political scientists John Judis and Ruy Teixeira. The book asserted that if the Democrat Party could continue to appeal to young and minority voters, the Republican Party would be obsolete in a matter of decades. Importantly, the book made clear that Democrats would have to hold on to their working-class base in order to make this vision a reality.
Yet, as the book was disseminated and distilled throughout the Democrat Party, the narrative was simplified. Obama’s election in 2008 seemed to confirm that “demographics are destiny” and the Democrat Party’s pre-ordained permanent majority had arrived.
In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Teixeira notes that following Obama’s election, many Democrats began referring to their party as the “coalition of the ascendant.” He asserts that this carried the implication of “a moral judgment” that those who are with the Democrats are morally righteous.
That disdain has cost Democrats dearly, Teixeira notes: “If you look at the nonwhite working-class—black, Hispanic, Asian, but particularly driven by Hispanics—Democrats have lost 19 margin points between 2012 and 2020, while they’ve gained 16 margin points among white college-educated voters.”
Teixeria has also noted in a recent op-ed that Biden’s waning support among nonwhite working-class voters could be a calamity for the party in 2024. Obama carried this coalition by 67 points in 2012. Biden was able to carry it by 48 points in 2020. Now, polls have Biden leading Trump among these voters by only 16 points.
Most troubling for Democrats is the stark divide between Biden and nonwhite working-class voters on cultural issues. For instance, 70% of nonwhite working-class voters believe biological males should not be allowed to play in women’s sports. Biden, meanwhile, has threatened to withhold federal lunch money from schools that refuse to allow biological males to compete with the girls.
The realignment of nonwhite working-class voters away from the Democrat Party also appears to have been helped along by the emergence of Trump’s brand of populist conservative politics. In 2020, Trump won the largest share of all nonwhite voters of any Republican presidential candidate since 1960.
In the end, it seems that the voters the political “experts” once thought would hand Democrats a permanent majority may in fact be the reason they lose power.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with more than a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.